This is Dr. Magali Gil, better known as “Mikki,” professor of education and anthropology. Her name, Magali, is of Spanish origin and pronounced Ma·ga·li, but she still responds to my-golly.
Mikki was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the heart of Manhattan in multicultural New York City. Attending an AG Spanish church and AG English church, Mikki learned how to code-switch at a young age. During her teen years, Mikki met Reverend David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, at Glad Tidings Tabernacl where her involvement with the beginnings of Teen Challenge was life changing. As she was singing in the Teen Challenge Trio at a Spanish AG church, Mikki met Vince Gil and they started a long-distance courtship while finishing their bachelor’s degrees.
At 21, Mikki began her life-long journey as an educator with her first teaching assignment in Harlem, NY. She talks about the civil rights movement and the feminist movement with passion and humility (she was teaching in Harlem when Rev. Martin Luther King was assassinated). It was during this time that she knew teaching would be her calling. Today, she talks about the impact that one person can have on a life, reminding us that to “teach is to touch a life forever”.
During the first 25 years of her professional journey, Mikki enjoyed education roles as a high school teacher, assistant principal and principal in both NY and Orange County. At the same time, she was determined to learn as much as she could about people and pursued an MA in Latin American Studies at UCLA, and an MA in Social Science and PhD in Mathematical Social Science from UC Irvine.
In 1995, Mikki was recruited to bring her professional and academic experience to Vanguard to open the first Graduate Program in Education. Her greatest delight is mentoring students through their graduate research. And her commitment to diversity led her to be Vanguard's first liaison to HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) to help Vanguard obtain its HSI designation. She also wrote the first Diversity Framework to WASC, and mentored Latina students to increase minority enrollment. This year she celebrates her 26 years at Vanguard and 53 years as an educator.
As for her hobbies—they all center around nurturing “la familia” and traveling around the world, especially the Caribbean. The Gils are a VU legacy family: Vince, Mikki’s daughters, Debra and Rachel, and her son-in-law, Gary, are all Vanguard alums. Most recently, her granddaughter, Alysha, returned to Vanguard to complete her BA. Her daughters are public school teachers, and both have been selected “Teacher of the Year” by their peers. They all live in Irvine, so family celebrations are full of teacher-talk and delicious food. Mikki’s personal goal is to return to Milan, where she has vouchers waiting at the famous La Scala Opera House, to enjoy Romeo and Juliet (interrupted in 2020 by Covid lockdowns).
Thank you, Dr. Gil, for being an advocate for minority students and building Vanguard’s Graduate Education program into one of the top education programs in Orange County.
- university news